There's been a hot discussion on the LawMarketing Listserv as to whether there's any value being in one of the "Who's Who" books. The response has been a resounding NO.
There's Marquis Who's Who, Strathmore's Who's Who, Who's Who Online, Europa's International Who's Who, and so forth. I responded, "Didn't it used to be called "Wastemoremoney's Who's Who?"
"I'm assuming this is another listing that is unnecessary and carries no prestige," said Melissa L. Jones, Marketing Director of Babst, Calland, Clements and Zomnir, P.C.
Tom Kane chimed about a great article in Forbes FYI in March 1999 that debunked all of these "Who's Who" listings. It's great ammo to show to a partner who need his prominence confirmed: http://www.forbes.com/fyi/1999/0308/063.html. "That article was a great help to me in staving off requests for lawyers' inclusion and references to "Who's Who" listings in the attorney bios when I was in-house," Tom said.
The article is great ammo to present to partners whose egos have caused them to be interested in "an honor that only a select few ever enjoy." Being listed used to mean you had attained a significant achievement or position in your field. Not any more. It turns out, anybody can get into Who's Who. It now includes bowling coaches, gym teachers, undertakers, administrative assistants, landscapers and school nurses. There are more than 100,000 entries in "Who's Who in America."
Of course, I can't remember ever looking up anybody in a Who's Who book, except for my own listing, which I first got when I was an Associate Editor at a bar association magazine.
The Who's Who publication's aren't picky about who gets into their books. John Fox Sullivan, a member of a Who's Who board of advisors, told Forbes, "The reality is, I don't do anything." So there are a lot of self-nominated people who haven't really accomplished much. Nearly everyone who is nominated gets into the book.
Afterwards the publisher works hard to sell you copy of the book for $749 ($1,595 for the Web version), and a mahogany wall plaque for $99, crystal desktop ornaments for $149, crystal bookends for $349, silver charm bracelet for $129, lapel pin for $64, Bulova watches for $195, or a leather briefcase for $199.
Whenever I saw someone touting their inclusion in Who's Who, I immediately thought "what a pathetic loser" or "what an insecure egomaniac."